Now with a card reader

sumup_header

So I went ahead and ordered an iZettle card reader that should arrive in the next week or so. This should allow me to take card payments at craft fairs, so it is a timely purchase as the first of those 8 Christmas Fairs in November is only just over 3 weeks away. Busy, busy is my mode at the moment as I make more Christmas decorations.

Remember these dates:

map-of-fairs1

Hope to see you there.

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Risk Assessment for Craft Fairs (UK)

Risk Assessment

Be honest, you hadn’t even thought about risk assessment, had you? It really isn’t a big job once you know how. You probably need just two documents that you can then reuse for every fair.

What is risk assessment anyways?

It is a document that proves you have thought about the potential hazards and risks associated with an activity (in this case, the craft fair you are attending) and have done what you can to reduce those risks. You may need two documents, one for outside fairs where you provide your own gazebo and the other for indoor fairs. My understanding is that if you are attending a fair where the organisers provide the gazebo, the indoor fair document is valid as responsibility for the gazebo in those cases lies with the organisers.

So what does it look like?

Well there are lots of risk assessment templates available online. There are even examples to be found online. The government offer some templates and examples, but I found most to be not very useful for craft fairs. If you go looking for examples, it is best to try to find UK ones specific for craft fairs. In creating my own I did a lot of research, looking at schools and youth groups, outdoor activities and retail risk assessment documents as well as ones for crafting and craft fairs.

Didi Lou Crafts Risk Assessment

I did the risk assessment for Didi Lou Crafts to attend crafts fairs back in May last year and am happy to share a mock up of both documents here as another example:

OUTSIDE

Organisation/company: Your Business Name Description of activities: Craft Stall with gazebo at Fair/Market
Completed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
Last reviewed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
HAZARD OUTCOME PERSONS AT RISK MEASURES FURTHER ACTION LEVEL OF RISK PERSON RESPONSIBLE
Fire Burns, smoke inhalation Stallholder, general public No smoking allowed within the gazebo.
No flammable materials or electricity will be used in the stall area.
Organisers to provide general fire fighting equipment and marshals in the event of a fire on site.
Put up a no smoking sign in gazebo.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ fire safety procedures.
Low Your Name
Weather: high winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms Displays blowing over and hitting people Stallholder, general public Ensure gazebo is properly tied or weighted down and that any pegs and ropes are clearly visible. In extreme weather, displays should be packed away to prevent damage.
In high wind, double check ropes and weights.
Medium Your Name
Issues with gazebo Leaks Stallholder, general public If leaks develop, repair quickly. Have duct tape available for minor repairs Low Your Name
Issues with displays Tipping, blown or knocked over and hitting people Stallholder, general public Secure all display signs and furnishings well before setting up items for sale. Have extra cable ties, duct tape, etc to deal with minor problems. Medium Your Name
Slips, trips and falls Slips, trips and falls Stallholder, general public Avoid wires and cables that could be tripped over.
Keep areas tidy and store boxes under tables.
Take extra care in muddy situations.
Stallholder to ensure public cannot access rear of display tables.
Low Your Name
Tablecloths Trips, pulling off. Stallholder, general public Tablecloths will be positioned to not trail on ground and secured safely. None required. Low Your Name
Falling objects Bruising Stallholder, general public Ensure tables are stable on the ground before loading them with items. None required. Low Your Name
Breakable items Cuts from broken glass or pots Stallholder, general public Place breakable items away from the edges of the table.
Ensure table coverings are firmly attached to table.
Be prepared for cleaning up should an accident happen. Medium Your Name
Hazardous substances Inhalation Stallholder, general public No foreseen need of hazardous substances at this stage. None required. Low Your Name
Hazardous items Cuts and stabs General public Scissors, needles, etc, used for setting up and working in quiet times should be put away when not in use and kept away from the general public. None required. Low Your Name
Electrical Electric shock Stallholder, general public No foreseen need for electrical equipment at this stage. Lights at Christmas are battery operated. All electrical equipment to be PAT tested before use. Low Your Name
Manual handling Strains Stallholder Use trolley for moving heavy items.
Move items in manageable loads.
None required. Medium Your Name
Working in extreme weather Sunburn
Cold
Mud
Stallholder Stay under the gazebo.
Have sunblock and sunglasses.
Bring sufficient suitable clothing.
Bring sufficient suitable drinks.
None required. Low Your Name
Violence and threatening behaviour Threat Stallholder Keep calm.
Call for help.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures/staff. Low Your Name
Working alone Threat Stallholder Be aware of people around.
Keep money out of sight.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name
Theft Threat Stallholder Keep a firm lookout on what is happening, especially if large groups are around. Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name

INSIDE

Organisation/company: Your Business Name Description of activities: Craft Stall in Hall
Completed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
Last reviewed by: Your Name Date: DD/MM/YY Signature: Your Signature
HAZARD OUTCOME PERSONS AT RISK MEASURES FURTHER ACTION LEVEL OF RISK PERSON RESPONSIBLE
Fire Burns, smoke inhalation Stallholder, general public No flammable materials or electricity will be used in the stall area.
Building owners to provide general fire fighting equipment. Event organisers to provide marshals in the event of a fire on site.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ fire safety procedures.
Stallholder to be aware of closest emergency exits.
Low Your Name
Issues with displays Tipping, knocked over and hitting people Stallholder, general public Secure all display signs and furnishings well before setting up items for sale. Have extra cable ties, duct tape, etc to deal with minor problems. Medium Your Name
Slips, trips and falls Slips, trips and falls Stallholder, general public Avoid wires and cables that could be tripped over.
Keep areas tidy and store boxes under tables.
Stallholder to ensure public cannot access rear of display tables. Low Your Name
Tablecloths Trips, pulling off. Stallholder, general public Tablecloths will be positioned to not trail on ground and secured safely None required. Low Your Name
Falling objects Bruising Stallholder, general public Ensure tables are stable on the ground before loading them with items. None required. Low Your Name
Breakable items Cuts from broken glass or pots Stallholder, general public Place breakable items away from the edges of the table.
Ensure table coverings are firmly attached to table.
Be prepared for cleaning up should an accident happen. Medium Your Name
Hazardous substances Inhalation Stallholder, general public No foreseen need of hazardous substances at this stage. None required. Low Your Name
Hazardous items Cuts and stabs General public Scissors, needles, etc, used for setting up and working in quiet times should be put away when not in use and kept away from the general public. None required. Low Your Name
Electrical Electric shock Stallholder, general public No foreseen need for electrical equipment at this stage. Lights at Christmas are battery operated. All electrical equipment to be PAT tested before use. Low Your Name
Manual handling Strains Stallholder Use trolley for moving heavy items.
Move items in manageable loads.
None required. Medium Your Name
Working in extreme weather Sunburn
Cold
Mud
Stallholder Stay under the gazebo.
Have sunblock and sunglasses.
Bring sufficient suitable clothing.
Bring sufficient suitable drinks.
None required. Low Your Name
Violence and threatening behaviour Threat Stallholder Keep calm.
Call for help.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures/staff. Low Your Name
Working alone Threat Stallholder Be aware of people around.
Keep money out of sight.
Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name
Theft Threat Stallholder Keep a firm lookout on what is happening, especially if large groups are around. Stallholder to familiarise themselves with the organisers’ security procedures. Low Your Name

They are actually not so different, the weather issues and gazebo not included on the indoor one and the fire precautions now assigned to slightly different people.

gazebo

Now make your own risk assessment documents

Well you’ve read about them and seen the ones I use for Didi Lou Crafts, so now it is time for you to create your own. Hopefully you can now see they are not as scary as maybe you thought. It really is all about thinking of the possible dangers to you and to the public and doing what you can to reduce those dangers.

As I said above, I am very happy to share this so you can use this content for your own business, in other words you are free to copy and paste any and even all of these details in creating your own risk assessment documents for your small business. However, if you are using the details online, for example on your blog, I would prefer you to acknowledge Didi Lou Crafts as the source with a link to this post.

What do I do once I have a risk assessment document?

Keep the document safe. Check it from time to time to ensure it is still up to date. For example, if you start doing demonstrations at fairs you may need to add more sections. When I got new christmas lights, I added the small bit about them being battery operated. Print a copy of each version and add them to the portfolio you take to each craft fair, so if Trading Standards ever turn up you will have a copy to give them. Be sure to implement everything you have said in the risk assessment every time, so boxes stored away, breakable items displayed away from the front of the table, no smoking sign up in your gazebo, carrying boxes in manageable loads, checking fire exits, etc. You really should be asking the organisers about their fire and safety procedures each time too, something I admit I am lax about.

What if I organise craft fairs?

That is a whole different ball game, which I have not covered here. You are likely to need written fire and safety procedures, appointed fire and safety staff and, in some cases, parking attendants. Contact your local Trading Standards for advice.

Good luck with your craft fairs.

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Spring Fair in Wokingham

160409craftfair1It felt like ages since Didi Lou Crafts did a fair, but it is only about 10 weeks. Now that isn’t really that long, but in terms of what has happened at home, it feels like it is a lifetime ago. That aside, it was nice to get out again and mix with other stall holders and to speak with the public about my products.

160409craftfair2This fair was held upstairs in a large room in Wokingham Town Hall. I had never visited the town hall before and must say it was a nice room, one I can imagine would be atmospheric for a small intimate wedding party. It worked for a craft fair, although I guess for the organiser the space is quite limited and means only a small number of stalls could be included. The town hall is right next to the Market Place and Saturday is always market day in Wokingham town centre. Being in the centre of town had advantages and disadvantages: there were plenty of people around, but unloading and parking was not as easy as at some halls. However being upstairs did mean people didn’t necessarily know about the fair and the organiser ended up putting balloons outside as well as sending people out to hand out flyers and telling people we were there.

160409craftfair3Didi Lou Crafts had a couple of sales, but it wasn’t the best of the fairs I have attended. I think fairs focussed on a specific upcoming seasonal holiday work better, such as Christmas Fairs. It might have been better to attend a fair early in March to catch the Easter and Mother’s Day trade, but unfortunately with the issues at home that was not possible this year.

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On having a stall at a Craft Fair

craftfair150815-5 Didi Lou Crafts has now done 12 craft fairs since August and here are helpful hints I have picked up:craftfair150905-2

  • Pick busy fairs: It is no fun going to all the effort of preparing and attending a fair, with all the setting up and packing down, the time, the travel (and in some cases the parking costs) and you end up selling less than the cost of the table. Are they a regular fair? Do they have a web presence such as a website or Facebook page? How much advertising do they do? Some fairs also ask for an item for a raffle, consider what it is you will donate and be sure to use it as an advertising opportunity and include your business card.craftfair151017-2
  • Pick the right fairs for your products: There are Craft Fairs, Wedding Fairs, School Fetes, Summer Fetes, Gift and Beauty Fairs, Christmas Gift Fairs and many more. Some will not be the right vehicle for your target audience. Someone who does children’s toys or baby clothes is going to do much better at a Nursery Fair than a Gift and Beauty Fair. Be aware that Wedding Fairs are more about contacts, you will probably not make many sales, so take lots of advertising material for brides to take away (these are not my target audience, but reading online and chatting to other people, this is what I have heard). Location can be important, if your products are expensive you will likely do better choosing village fetes in small villages with mostly established home owners, whereas in a new estate products aimed at children will do well as it is a younger population with young families.craftfair151107-1
  • Shop Fittings: You will need at the very minimum some form of covering for the tables and some form of shelving to display your items on various levels. Some fairs ask you to bring a table too. Summer and school fetes are more likely to need you to bring table, chairs and a gazebo. You should have a sign of some sort that is very visible, you want people to know your company name and hopefully remember it. Try to keep all this within your normal “branding” image. At first I displayed my christmas decorations hanging in front of the table, but I found sales increased when I hung them from a portable clothes rail over the table.craftfair151115-1a
  • Sales Sundries: Sales at a craft fair are different to selling online and need slightly different equipment. Price tags are one requirement, put prices on everything, people don’t like to ask and that can mean missed sales. I bought little card ones on strings from Staples I think, but they are available in lots of places (I didn’t want to mess up my products with sticky labels). Those easily slip over many items and for odd shaped items, for example on my plant pots and glass vases, I attach them to a rubber band and then put the band around the item… they don’t mark and are very easy to remove. You will probably need some bags for some of your sales, particularly for bigger or multiple items but take care because some fairs are now plastic free (I use paper bags). Use the bags as an opportunity to include your business card or flyer, I preload mine and have a lovely big sticker with my logo and some relevant addresses like email and the Etsy shop on the outside of the bags. I also have printed safety/care sheets for many products that I put in the bag when the sale is made. Have a stock list and tick off items as they are sold and compare against your cash at the end of the day. I record every sale in a duplicate invoice book. Have business cards and nice flyers (A5 or A6 size) out on your table for people to pick up.craftfair151121-2_tn
  • Legal Stuff (Insurance/Risk Assessment/Certifications): You should have both public and product liability insurance. The public liability is in case someone injures themselves in the process of looking at your stock, whereas the product liability is in case someone injures themselves once they own the item. Even if they use the item in a manner it was not designed for and they try to sue you and you win, the insurance is a must as it can help with all the legal costs. If someone does try to claim against you and you have no insurance, you will be responsible for all costs until after it is resolved. Some fairs insist you have a certain level of public liability insurance, so check the small print of the fair against your policy. (Note too that some insurance policies will be reluctant to offer product liability for items being shipped to the US and Canada, do be aware of what cover you have if you are selling online). Some fairs have their own public liability cover and will allow you, sometimes at a small fee, to be covered by theirs, but you still need product liability cover. I always take a copy of my insurance certificate to the fairs, just in case someone asks to see it. Another thing I take is a copy of my risk assessment paperwork. This is a general form that shows you have considered possible problems and tried to minimise the risks of injuries. Note that if you use anything electrical at all such as lights, you will most likely need them PAT tested. Take that paperwork along too, or better still look for battery operated alternatives. Toys need CE certification. Food, beauty products and candles all have special rules around hygiene, allergens and/or safety including listing the ingredients, make sure that is all on display and you have the more official paperwork close at hand in case it needs to be checked.craftfair151204-2b
  • Money: Have some way of keeping the money close to hand but safe. I use a metal cash box and keep the key with my car keys in my pocket at all times. Other people go for money belts or bags hung over their body, often worn under their jacket. If you are manning your stall alone, other stall holders are really friendly and happy to watch your stall if you need a “call of nature” break, but remember to take your cash with you if you need to leave the stall for any reason. Have more than enough change. If you only accept cash, put up a sign to that effect. Having a machine to accept cards is not that expensive, but it is not necessarily a step you need to take for your very first fair, or even for the first year or so. Most people understand and bring cash to a fair. If you have an online store, there may be a way to access that using a phone and accept payments that way, but you will need to look into that yourself, it is not something I’ve considered as of yet.craftfair151205-1b
  • Be Prepared: Food and drink might be available at the fair at a cost, but sometimes it is hard to get away. I always have cold drinks with me. I also take mint tic tacs. Have a warm jacket, even an indoor fair can be cold. I also have a “useful bag” of little items I might need in an emergency, like sticky tape, clothes pegs, bubble wrap, scissors, pens (plural), a notebook (sometimes people want to place an order and sometimes other stall holders have good contacts… write them down), string, safety pins, glue, sticky dots… could you fix an item quickly if it needed a repair? Could you rig up a better place for your signage if against the wall?craftfair151212-1_tn
  • Stock levels: It is hard to know what stock and how much to take, especially if you also run an online shop. When I was first researching fairs lots of experienced people recommended having some small items that fit in with your other stock. I have found those little items sell well, but they are not worth selling individually online. If you take stock that is online to a fair, how will you handle any sales of those items… with one-of-a-kind items, you can’t sell it twice. Last year I put my Etsy shop on vacation during each fair, but this year I am going to try using the Etsy app from my phone to remove any listings as I sell them at the fair or remove the item from the stall if they sell online. As for stock levels, I think perhaps I am taking too much, giving people too much choice, but I take approximately 200 items to each fair (remember lots of them are those little items I don’t sell online).craftfair151216-1_tn
  • Enjoy the interaction: Treat each fair as a learning experience. They can be hard work, but they can also be fun and you get to interact with potential customers and see what really catches people’s eye. Allow people to touch your products, which is one thing online customers can’t do. And have fun!craftfair151218-1_tn

Didi Lou Crafts can be found at various fairs around Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire as and when (keep an eye out on the Events page on this website for upcoming dates), but is always open online at Etsy. See the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop

craftfair160130-1b

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First fair of the new year

craftfair160130-1bDidi Lou Crafts ventured northeast yesterday to attend the Marlow Community Market as a stallholder. This is a regular fair, held the last Saturday of every month and has mixed stalls, including foods. It was a quiet day, cold out (and cold in the hall too). I felt sorry for the cheese man, he was outside the hall in a gazebo.

craftfair160130-2bI made a few sales, but it was disappointing. Perhaps it was the January effect… people say they make less sales of craft items in January, after the madness of Christmas. But I was next to some great stallholders and the day passed quickly enough, some of it sat on the wall heater to try to stay warm.

craftfair160130-3bSome of the newer products can be seen in these pictures, such as the animal door hangers, the love heart and tulip fridge magnet cards which have only just been listed on Etsy in the last week or so. To see these new items, check out the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy store. Other items made their debut, including some fun handpainted ceramic car moneyboxes and some new glass engraved items, which are still to be added to the Didi Lou Crafts Etsy shop in the coming weeks.

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Lunchtime Fair at One Valpy

craftfair151218-1_tn

Today’s fair was the last for Didi Lou Crafts for 2015. Didi Lou Crafts has done a total of 11 fairs since August, 8 of those in the last 6 weeks. This was another corporate lunchtime event. It was well organised, but disappointingly not that well attended. So a mixed bag with regards these lunchtime corporate events, but definitely something I will consider again for next year.
craftfair151218-2_tnThe advantages are that there are less stalls, being mid week, many stallholders are not able to do a mid week lunchtime because they have other commitments. I found out about these two through other contacts, they are not as easily findable as most fairs and markets. If these two are representative of most then they are held on company property and it may be that many are free, but parking was not so easy for these two, that may vary with other companies. I will keep my eye out for more of these next year.
craftfair151218-3_tn

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Lunchtime Fair at The Blade

craftfair151216-1_tnSerenaded by a steel band, overlooking the city, Didi Lou Crafts was at the corporate christmas lunch for The Blade building in Reading today. Staff in the building also got lunch and a free casino as well as the steel band playing christmas carols and there were only 6 stalls with Christmas and/or handmade items.

craftfair151216-2_tnIt was a good fair for Didi Lou Crafts, particularly because there was no table fee. The organisers were very friendly and helpful and the staff from the building visiting us were particularly interested in the handmade items. As has been the case at many of the recent fairs, the Christmas decorations sold well, particularly the Christmas suncatchers but also the decorated hearts and the little decorated notepads which are popular all year round and at this time of year make a great little stocking filler.

craftfair151216-3_tncraftfair151216-4_tnTheir tables were only 4 foot by 2 foot, but the young man helping was very happy to let me use 2 tables. Once we started packing up, we were offered some of the buffet lunch. One lovely woman helped move my boxes down in the lift while I collected my car from the public car park and even helped me load up the car. It is definitely an experience I would repeat and I am pleased to say I am doing it all over again the day after tomorrow at a sister building just down the road.

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We were up on the 13th floor of The Blade, in what seemed like a conference and entertainment room. The view from up there was amazing, almost 360 degrees over the town of Reading.

craftfair151216-7_tn

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Another Christmas Fair

craftfair151212-3_tnDespite it being a drizzly Saturday afternoon mid December, this fair was reasonably well attended. It was an average fair for me, although I believe I did better than many of the stallholders. The organiser delivered a lot of leaflets and advertised in a lot of places, but it is a new fair, one that will be repeated, so hopefully it will build a following over time as people realise it is a more regular fixture on the calendar.

craftfair151212-2_tnFor me, the sellers were mostly Christmas decorations again, the glass painted suncatcher decorations very popular again. I now have only a few days till the next one mid-week. I will have very little time to make new stock so thankful I made enough Christmas stock over the last few months. I have already started my stock for the new year, with more supplies ordered. Valentine’s Day is the next big push for me.

craftfair151212-1_tnI am really enjoying doing the fairs, but they vary so much. I am beginning to recognise some of the regular stallholders too. Looking forward to the new year and already starting to enquire about fairs for 2016.

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Indoor Market

craftfair151205-1bThis market went reasonably well. Part of the appeal was definitely the ability to book photos with Santa, so there was a constant flow of people/families for that. Luckily Didi Lou Crafts was placed in the entrance on the ground floor, so people had to walk right by the stall. A high traffic area is great, even though the wind was cold coming through the open front door. I am not sure I would have done as well upstairs or round the corner. I deliberately had different (or additional) stock to the previous night’s stall, mostly because I expected a more mixed group of shoppers at this fair, which was the right call.

craftfair151205-2bThere are a number of problems with being a lone stallholder, such as handling toilet breaks, but my experience after a number of fairs is fellow stallholders are happy to watch the stall for a few minutes, so I rattle as I head off, cash box in backpack. Some people have the advantage of a spouse to drop them off and pick them up, which is a help unloading the car and saves the problem of finding parking. This fair was in the centre of town and I had to load with the hazard lights on surrounded by buses. I was very late leaving, because when I got back to the car park to get the car there was a long queue to leave and someone stuck at the barrier (and whilst the car park has two in barriers, it only has one out barrier). Not something I can really control and I’ve had similar problems at a previous fair where there was a huge queue to pay for the parking, so I have to admit it is easier when the location has a free car park on site, but that isn’t always the case. The next fair does, but the last two I have booked for this year have the same problem as this fair, being in the middle of town, so needing to unload then head off to park before returning to set up, in a busy town so close to Christmas. Still Christmas is likely to be the best time of year for me. Amusingly, in terms of making items, I am already planning my spring stock, considering Valentine’s Day and Easter and thinking about what sort of new summer items I might make to increase sales at that time of year.

craftfair151205-3b

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